Category Archives: me

I Am An Amateur Photographer

Stylish Senior by Nichelle Stephens on 500px.com

I have been taking photos for years, but I didn’t get a good camera until 18 months ago when I got a Canon EOS.  Now when people see me, they assume that I am a photographer.   I often say “I am not a photographer; I just have a good camera.”  Well, I am actually an amateur photographer. I enjoy taking photos and I want to get better at it. One of my photos will be in a local exhibition, Span The Gap. This week I joined 500px and I am posting photos on there.

New Hosting,Who Dis?!

Nichelle Stephens

I changed my hosting to FatCow, who I highly recommend. However, all my old blog posts are gone.  You can probably find them in the wayback machine, but I am ready for a fresh start and to continue blogging at NichelleStephens.com I have been blogging since 2003 starting with my first blog Nichelle Newsletter on Blogspot.  In 2004, I moved to Typepad, and then I finally settled on WordPress in 2006.

Happy Spring! Happy New Beginnings!

Game Over. Grind On.

Regarding my move, a few people have said to me that “New York’s lost is Atlanta’s gain”. If I were to compare New York to an old boyfriend, than I doubt New York will be pinging me on Facebook or texting me any time soon. (BTW, it is super easy to find me. I am on  all the social media.)

Starting over is hard, but I am excited and anxious by the clean slate. If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then I am certifiable. I am not hard enough on myself. I don’t push enough. I squeak by.

I am going to push. The grind is on this time. The slacker game is over.

One Week In, One Week Removed From New York

Found copy of Iyanla Vanzant's #actsofaith that I got Christmas 1994.

I found up my old dog-eared copy of Acts of Faith by Iyanla Vanzant.  I am reading it along with Douglas Rushkoff’s Present Shock.

Today’s Meditation:  Identification with an organization or a cause is no substitute for self-realization.

It took me leaving New York City to realized how much I had incorporated being a New Yorker as a big part of my identity. Now that I am not there, I can take note of who I am wherever I be.

I am a woman.

I am Black.

I am a Southerner.

I am a blogger.

I love cupcakes.

I am the oldest of three girls.

My elevator pitch is too long.

My place has changed, but I am the same. Being present is nice.  The future is open but not as wide as it was in the past.

Nuance, Nostalgia, New Chapter

Shorter blog post: I left Brooklyn because I couldn’t afford it. I was afraid that I would be a bag lady. That fear and high likelihood it could happen was stressing me the fuck out.

Longer Blog Post:
I don’t navel-gaze. It may be good for self reflection or my core but I probably have lint in my belly button so that’s kinda gross.

People are so not naive to think that the world is black and white, but they act that as if it were because nuance fucks them up.
Similarly, I can’t decide if I more left-brained or right-brained. The lack of nuance seems to have made my career all topsy turvy.
I have been writing creatively since I was a kid. I wrote poems and stories since I was about ten years old. However, I was also good at math and science. I like baking. I like physics. I tend to recite one of Newton’s laws as it applies to everyday life. A body in motion will remain in motion…

I have been in constant motion living here in New York for over a decade. It’s been fun and inspiring. It has been heartbreaking and frustrating. Being always on the precipice of an arbitrary measure of success has kept my stomach in knots.

Although I took psychology in college, I didn’t fully understand cognitive dissonance until I read “The Souls Of Black Folks” by DuBois while living here in New York. My goal became to manage the dissonance. I also read Florence Scovel Shinn’s “The Game Of Life and How To Play It ” and I took to repeating the affirmation, “I have elegant and perfect timing. I am at exactly the right place at exactly the right time.” Sometimes that helped me to be patient and present.

I am going to get all “LCD Soundsystem” for a moment and say I was there for Deep Dish Cabaret in a dance studio,Gothamist happy hours at The Magician and Jinx Debates at Nolita Bar. I miss WYSIWYG, Chicks and Giggles and Tainted Lady Lounge. The good old days were not always great, but had perfect timing.

One of the tag lines of my old blog was this: “Nichelle hopes for Oprah-like scratch but she is already wealthy with an abundance of friends.” I will miss my awe-inspiring friends when I leave even more than I will miss Brooklyn. Brooklyn is full of artisans, divas, evangelists, ninjas and rockstars. I am pretty sure Brooklyn is the ONLY place on the earth where a stranger would come up to me to gush that I am “twitter famous”.

I am moving to Atlanta. Am I writing a new chapter or conducting an experiment? I don’t know. I hope to carve out a niche of prosperity and creativity.

Social Media Is Not A Bringer Show!

bringer show
Lately, more people are doing social media and part of that is a numbers game. Like an amateur comedian just starting out, you have to have a certain amount of people coming to the show to perform. In the comedy world, this is known as a bringer show. If you have a friend who is just starting out doing comedy, then you know about the dreaded bringer show where comedians can only perform if they get enough people to come to the show. Similarly, some people have social media gigs which require a certain amount of engagement on a weekly or daily basis. To reach these numbers, some social media coordinators will reach out to the friends repeatedly for “Likes”, “Retweets”, “Followers”. I don’t mind when someone sends me something and politely asks if I would consider spreading the word to my community. However, I really dislike when people send me a “sample tweet” in the hopes that I will simply copy, paste and tweet out to the world.

First of all, I recommend  social media professionals to stop over-promising to clients. Building social media presence is a long term process. If a client wants  1000 new followers a month, then don’t take the job. They can just buy twitter followers if they need the numbers so badly. Secondly, the strain that you may be putting on your friendships is not worth it. It is better to find which subset of friends who may be interested and message them. Stop sending blanket updates to everyone and please don’t beg for RTs. If you treat social media outreach like a bringer show, no one will come and the joke will be on you.

What Twitter Lists Are You On And What Does It Say About You

Are you using Twitter lists? If not, then you should. Twitter lists, when curated well, are a great way to cut through the noise on Twitter. I have three twitter lists that I created and they have been lifesaving, time-saving filter to find out what people are talking about on Twitter.

Foodiphiles – food bloggers on Twitter. Esential for food news.

Cupcake Bakeries– used mostly for Cupcakes Take The Cake. It is great way to see what bakeries are doing from all over the world.

Cool Black People– I actually created this list because I would get asked about other African American bloggers and twitterers, so the list made it easy to refer people to.

I am putting people into broad categories for my twitter lists, and people do the same to me. Recently, I took a look at the Twitter lists that people have put me in, and I realized that these lists give me an idea of what people think of me…at list on Twitter. I think that it shows how effective I am at reflecting my personal brand. Here are some of the lists I am on:

  • Black Entrepreneurs
  • Cupcakes
  • Food Bloggers
  • Food And Drink
  • Girl Power
  • Interesting People
  • Media/Journalism
  • NYC
  • Social Media Pros
  • Startupnation
  • SXSW
  • Zeitgeist

So I think I am putting out content on Twitter that lets people be able to assign me to the Twitter lists that make sense. Even if their Twitter lists were completely random, that’s fine. The point is that I tweet daily about lots of things, and I think that people are reading those tweets and seeing a connection between me and the content.

Ten Funny Guys

Listed without commentary and in no particular order, here are eight ten funny Black men that I have seen do stand-up comedy.

1. Baron Vaughn
2. Eric Andre
3. Hannibal Burress
4. Baratunde Thurston
5. Victor Varnado
6. Elon James White
7. Dave Lester
8. Donald Glover
9. Jordan Carlos
10. Wyatt Cenac

Sent from my Android,
Nichelle Stephens

Darkest Before The Dawn

Last night’s episode of "Mad Men" showcased two new employees. Dawn is the new secretary for Don who is basically an affirmative action hire that happened because of a want ad that "blackfired". It is funny that her name is Dawn since it would make watercooler chatter interesting for people besides Harry Crane. While I don’t expect "Three’s Company" hijinks to ensue; I have a feeling Don and Dawn’s names might get mistaken for each other in a subtle way. Roger Sterling’s joke, "darkest before the Dawn" went over like a lead balloon and Peggy ignored it as they were talking about the new copy writer.

The other new hire is Michael Ginsburg who came off as so stereotypically Jewish that even my friend David rolled his eyes. He was anxious and weird during his interview with Peggy. Hopefully his character will be more developed as the season goes and he gets a better wardrobe.

I feel for Roger Sterling when he asks, "When will things get back to normal?".

Michele Norris of NPR was prescient when she said in an interview that the country today is most racial, not "post racial".

I don’t know about this "new normal". Talking about race requires nuance that can’t be easily storyboarded and slapped on an ad.

Judge lest you not be judged.

Sent from my Android,
Nichelle Stephens

Does Having A Dog Signify You Are Relationship Ready?

When I notice a trend, I often wonder if it is significant or just a convergence of coincidences. BTW, is there any research being done on cultural trends through the prism of particle dynamics?! I failed physics in college but I think I would have aced it if was taught using pop cultural analogies.

Anyway, I have noticed more of my single lady-friends and/or women getting dogs. The dogs are not little ones that you carry in a designer purse. (Paris Hilton, no one likes you.)

No matter how low maintenance these dogs are, they still more attention and care than a cat. Their owners are busy NYC women who go to work and attend events. I think about something Erica Reitman said to me once when leaving a bar to walk her dog, "Having a dog makes you a better person".

That may be true but does having a dog mean you are relationship ready? The nightly partying has to curbed if you have a dog because you have to walk your dog. It also means you actually walk which is good for your health. If you frequently go to a dog park, then you socialize with other dog owners. Some of them you may want sniff and date. Woof!